Menston Action Group and Schofield Sweeney win in the Court of Appeal

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Menston Action Group (MAG) are celebrating today following the Court of Appeal’s decision to allow their judicial review of the proposed development at the Derry Hill site in Menston to proceed on all grounds of challenge. Schofield Sweeney Partner, Alistair Kennedy, is leading a team of litigation lawyers in a ground-breaking judicial review for MAG. Formed in 2010 to represent the residents of Menston, MAG are objecting to Barratt Homes’ proposals to build 176 houses on fields at Derry Hill, in Menston village. Barratt Homes were given planning permission subject to various conditions, including a requirement to submit a drainage scheme for the development based upon sustainable drainage principles. A scheme was submitted in early 2014 and was approved by Bradford Council last August. It is that decision; to approve Barratt’s scheme and find it compliant with the drainage condition, which is being challenged by MAG. Judicial Review proceedings were issued by Schofield Sweeney in September. Following a full day hearing in the Administrative Court in Leeds in January, with David Wolfe QC appearing for MAG, MAG were given permission to proceed with the claim on their second ground, challenging the validity of the procedure adopted by Bradford Council when making their decision. However, MAG were refused permission to proceed with their primary ground, which is based upon a much wider issue of whether the condition and sustainable drainage principles required Barratt to put forward a drainage scheme that addressed potential improvement of flooding issues around the Derry Hill site, including a nearby electricity substation that is prone to flooding. MAG appealed the refusal of permission and the Rt Hon Lord Justice Sullivan in the Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the Leeds’ Court, giving MAG permission to proceed with their challenge on both grounds. Lord Justice Sullivan noted that the challenge raised a question of wider public importance. It is believed that any substantive Judgment on this issue will be ground-breaking and make new law. Alistair Kennedy stated following the successful appeal that:- This is a fantastic result for MAG and the residents of Menston, who are desperately worried that the proposed development at Derry Hill will make flooding in Menston much worse. MAG also have very serious concerns about ongoing flooding of the electricity substation adjacent to the Derry Hill site and have raised health and safety concerns. For the Court of Appeal to acknowledge the wider importance of this challenge and give MAG the opportunity to bring all of their concerns before a full hearing of the Administrative Court is very encouraging. Bradford Council and Barratt Homes are working hard to prop up the Council’s decision and defeat MAG’s claim, but this is the second recent success for MAG and we believe that the writing is on the wall. There is a lot of hard work to do from here for MAG and Schofield Sweeney, but we remain committed to ensuring that the interests of Menston residents are protected”. Schofield Sweeney’s Chairman, Chris Schofield, has been working with MAG from the beginning and has offered his time throughout free of charge. Menston residents held a referendum opposing the developments at Derry Hill and Bingley Road several years ago. 98% voted against the proposed developments and 2,000 letters of objection were submitted, despite this Bradford Council still approved the schemes. MAG has long argued that both sites suffer from problems with water emerging from the ground and that the proposed developments would increase flooding in the area. An independent expert on flooding, Dr Duncan Reed, has supported these claims.

Over £100,000 has already been raised by local residents. The funds are a necessity in what has become complex and high profile High Court litigation.

Alistair Kennedy, Partner, is available for comment on the above case on 0113 220 6271.

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Menston Joins Guiseley (just for the day we hope)

Menston residents join up with those from Guiseley

Over a hundred people turn out on a cold windy and rainy Sunday afternoon to protect the green belt. The walk around the Leeds and Menston boundaries was arranged by The Community Voice On Planning. Support was shown on the day by Bradford Councillor Anne Hawkesworth  (and boy was that Sou’wester needed), and members of WARD and MAG.

For a full report see The Alternative Menston village website and the Wharfedale Observer

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DAY OF ACTION RALLY

See poster Day of Action and back of flyerWharfedale Observer

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Community Voice on Planning are preparing a National day of action on Sunday 12th April to protest at the loss of greenbelt between settlements which is leading to urban sprawl and a reduction in social standards across the nation.   We have our own issues here in Menston as part of our settlement lies within Leeds City boundaries and the larger part within BMDC.   Recently the village was represented at the Inspectors examination in public of the Bradford Core Strategy for housing over the coming 15 years and much angst was raised by many communities around Bradford over the planning rules which state that Local Planning Authorities should be seen to cooperate over the development of their core strategies where these impact on neighbouring authorities. Those present could see the results of no such cooperation as sites are coming forwards for development across both sides of Menston that will result in the settlements of Guiseley and Menston becoming a single sprawl.   We may be forced to, once more, become victims of circumstances if the green space between Menston and Guiseley is further eroded and do remember that at the moment, this comes at the end of many years of heavy developments, where no additional communications or social infrastructure have been put in place.   Let us all join with our villagers on Moorland Crescent on Sunday 12th April and walk the green boundary between Menston and Guiseley. Bring as many banners, placards as you can carry to show support for this local cause as part of a national concern.